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Anselm Reyle

Anselm Reyle was born in Tübingen in 1970. He studied at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Stuttgart and at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Karlsruhe.


He moved to Berlin in 1997 where he founded a studio cooperation with John Bock, Dieter Detzner, Berta Fischer and Michel Majerus. From 1999 to 2001 Reyle has been working together with Claus Andersen and Dirk Bell for the artists' co-operative gallery "Andersen’s Wohnung" and "Montparnasse" with Dirk Bell and Thilo Heinzmann.


After having held a position as guest-professor at the Staatlichen Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Karlsruhe, Universität der Künste, Berlin and the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, Reyle became a professor in Drawing/Painting in Hamburg in 2009. In 2014 the artist announced to take an exhibition and production break of indeterminate duration.

One of Anselm Reyle’s best known work series are his “foil paintings” - the highly celebrated abstract works that are created using foil arranged and installed in colored perspex boxes. Their shimmering materiality seduces the recipient´s eye and stimulates their sense of touch, at the same time the perspex box denies any possibility of a tactile experience. The dynamic surface of these works emphasizes their objecthood and spatial presence, the fragile folded foil forms contrasting with their rigid geometry.

While he is well known for his use of unusual materials and physical alterations, Reyle’s work is grounded in art historical schools of abstraction dating from the early 20th century, including Art Informel, Cubism, Op-Art, Minimalism and Pop Art. And while Reyle often works within the tradition of object trouvés he does not rely on appropriation as in the work of, for example, Louise Lawler or Elaine Sturtevant. Instead Reyle uses his highly refined aesthetic vocabulary to question the role excess plays in the postmodern market by collapsing and mixing these various traditions in unexpected ways. Indeed, by exploiting both historic languages and simultaneously developing an evolving vocabulary of new industrial practices and mass production methods he is able to reflect upon the various “blind alleys of modernity.”

The artist is primarily represented in private collections such as The Saatchi Gallery, London, Daimler Collection, Berlin, Fondation Pinault, Venice, and Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

Anselm Reyle is considered one of the most pivotal artists of the 21st century. Unparalleled, he recycles and actualizes the formal accomplishments of Modernism, and subsequently reapplies them to constitute his own visual vocabulary.


Using this language, he reexamines our aesthetic awareness and challenges us to question our assumptions and rationale as to the parameters of art in relation to history and its imprint in contemporary culture. By exploring the fringes of high art and pop culture, Reyle creates often visually spectacular works that simultaneously confront us with a conceptual nihilism, at times incorporating everyday material such as fluorescent paint, neon light, silver Mylar and effect lacquer, most of which are usually considered as suspect in the art world. For his untitled foil works, the artist arranges silver foil on canvas intuitively, referring to the tradition of Abstract Expressionism.


Reyle had picked up on the material some years ago in a Berlin store’s window display and directly forged links between the decorative material and the act of painting on canvas. The action of draping becomes the thematic focus of the paintings, while light is also incorporated as a sculpting element. Compared to his earlier all over foil works, the new pieces, one of which was the base for the Henzel rug, focus less on the painting’s surface allure, created by the ornamental all over pattern, but more on its composition. Foregrounding the lavish folds, the material itself is given priority.

Following his exhibition at Kunsthaus Zurich in 2006, prices for Reyle's work have increased remarkably.At Christie's, one of his abstract paintings of 2004 was sold for more than $600,000 in 2007. One month earlier, Reyle had made a change in dealers in the United States, moving from Gavin Brown's Enterprise to Gagosian Gallery.


The following three years, from 2009 to 2012, the market showed signs of destabilization. In 2009 1/3 of his work sold below its estimate or failed to sell, and by 2012 more than half of all works brought to auction failed to sell. Since 2013 the market situation has been stabilizing again. Several works brought to auction in 2014 sold above the high estimate and reached up to more than $250,000. Anselm Reyle is now represented by Almine Rech in Brussels and Paris, Gagosian in the US, KÖNIG Galerie in Berlin and Andersens Contemporary in Copenhagen.

In 2008, works by Anselm Reyle grossed US$6,018,097 at auction. Last year, despite the art market reaching new heights as if the crash had never occurred, his auction tally narrowly topped US$2 million. With perhaps the exception of Hirst’s Dot Paintings or diamond-encrusted skull, For the Love of God (2007), one would be hard pressed to better sum up the pre-crash aesthetic and penchant for speculation than with one of Reyle’s monumental canvases bedecked with shiny, bright coloured foil, sometimes crinkled, sometimes laid down in stripes. Since 2001, Reyle  has produced these works and other flashtastic neons, polished metal sculptures, and paint-by-numbers canvases in a factory-like studio overlooking Berlin’s Spree River.

However, that studio is soon to shut its doors.  In an interview with German daily Die Welt, the artist announced an open-ended hiatus from art production. Citing promising gallery sales in recent years, Reyle claims his motivations were more personal than financial. But considering that, according to Reyle, the studio enterprise’s total costs ranged from €150,000-800,000 (approx. US$ 205,000-1.1 million) per month, it’s understandable the artist might want to put things on hold while building a new home and storage facility with his wife, architect Tanja Lincke.

The notoriously opaque realm of gallery sales aside (Reyle’s Berlin dealer, CFA, did not respond to artnet’s request for comment), auction demand for the artist’s works remains slack at best, with only a slight uptick in sales to $2.17 million in 2013, from $1.53 million in 2012. Reyle’s story is much more a cautionary tale against fulfilling feverish early demand for work that comes hand in hand with rampant speculation — he tells Die Welt that collectors could practically have foil works made to order at his peak —than any sort of qualitative referendum by the market on the work. If anything, a slacking of that demand right now due to a feeling that they are gauche will only strengthen their long term position of being so spot-on in their reflection of the capital frenzy of the early-aughts.

Whatever the rationale, the numbers are clear. Reyle’s overall value according to arnet Analytics’ most recent index report is down to an all-time low of only 31% of its peak value, which occurred in 2008, just two years after his work entered the secondary market. In the meantime, while the artnet Contemporary 50 and S&P500 indices fell 40% and 22%, respectively, to their lows in 2009, both have rebounded to sit today at 147% of their 2008 values.

Reyle’s sell-through rate at auction tells a similar story. While a below average showing of one 61% in 2009 can more or less be cast aside due to the sluggish market worldwide that year, it’s in 2012 that the artist saw the least interest in offerings of his work at auction, with just 19 of 40 works offered, or 48% finding successful bidders. However, demand, if not his price point, does appear to be rising once again. Over the past year, Reyle’s sell-through rate jumped back to 73%, just 2.25 points behind his lifetime average.

For those who speculated early on a Reyle that was bound to line their coffers with more than gold foil, the results are fairly grim, however.


The year 2013 saw his lowest-ever average price ($72,429) and average high estimate ($72,340)—figures that have consistently tracked in step with one another other than during the 2007 auction season—since any significant stream of works hit the auction market. (The figures were lower in 2006, at $57,896 and $64,947, respectively, but only one work was available.) Despite his self proclaimed lack of market intent with the studio closure, the move could see these numbers rise again due to perceived scarcity of supply going forward but only time will tell. Either way, one wouldn’t expect there to be much movement in his all-time top performing 5 or even 10 auction lots in the near future.

Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France
Essl Museum - Kunst der Gegenwart, Klosterneuburg, Austria
Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, US
The Mario Testino Collection, London, UK
Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Daimler Contemporary, Berlin, Germany
Sammlung Boros, Berlin, Germany
Sammlung Ingvild Goetz, Munich, Germany
Collection Ringier, Zurich, Switzerland
Pinault Collection, Venice, Italy
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
Arken Museum of Modern Art, Ishøj, Denmark
Leeum, Samsung Musem of Art, Seoul, South Korea
Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL, USA


“ Untitled”

Mixed media on canvas, acrylic, glass

71 x 60 x 12 cm

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